Packers QB Aaron Rodgers limited participant in practice

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There's progress with Aaron Rodgers' left knee.

For the first time since the Packers quarterback injured his knee in Week 1, he practiced before the team's weekly Saturday session.

Rodgers was limited in Thursday's practice, which is typically the team's longest workout of the week. The Packers don't practice on Fridays but instead hold a short on-field session about 24 hours before game time.

"Any time your quarterback [doesn't practice] -- I don't care what team you're on or wherever I've been, when your quarterback doesn't practice -- it's different," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said this week. "I mean, Aaron Rodgers brings a tremendous amount of -- forget about the game plan or the scheme you're running that week. The competitive nature. When you talk to defensive coaches, and I had one recently with one of the newer guys on our staff about other places and different [things]. When you feel a quarterback on the field, that's huge as far as his cadence, his presence, the competition. That's such a big part. Those are things that don't show up in a scouting report or that you can see on video.

"So I think clearly any football team that doesn't have their starting quarterback, especially the greatness of Aaron, it's definitely different in practice. And obviously if we didn't think it was important we wouldn't practice. But it's part of your preparation."

Rodgers indicated Wednesday that his lack of practice time didn't affect his performance in Sunday's 31-17 loss at Washington, but whatever work he gets in on Thursday will mean his most prep time since the season opener, which is the Packers (1-1-1) only win of the season.

Rodgers has played every snap in the two games since his injury but missed a total of five practices, including Wednesday's session -- the first in advance of Sunday's game against the Bills at Lambeau Field.

"Practice?" Rodgers said Wednesday, channeling his inner Allen Iverson. "What do you want to talk about? It's practice. I do love to compete. There's no doubt about it. It is difficult and different for me to not be out there. I'm one who always loves being out there because you're not just competing but you're working on things with the guys and working on the game plan especially on days like Wednesday and Thursday. So that's been obviously a struggle for me. But I've been putting a lot of good work in with Nate and our training staff. That's how I'm able to play. That's the tradeoff -- not being out there for practice but the tradeoff is I can actually get out there and play on Sunday.

"It's three weeks now, 2½ games of dealing with this, so I feel good about my movement. I'm getting better. And hopefully at some point I'll be able to practice again before Saturday. But other than that, just getting ready to play."

McCarthy also said tight end Jimmy Graham, who did not practice on Wednesday, will return in a limited fashion. McCarthy said Graham (knee) was held out because of "maintenance" and did not have an injury of concern. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who left Sunday's loss with a back injury, also is in the limited practice category. However, right guard Justin McCray (shoulder) is not expected to play this week. Veteran Byron Bell is expected to start in his place.